Sermon at Recreate Church Joshua 3: Welcome to Your New Future!

JOSHUA 3

 

SO LONG TO YOUR OLD LIFE

 

HOW TO CROSS THE JORDAN

 

“Unbelief says, ‘Let’s go back to where it’s safe.’ Faith says, ‘Let’s go forward to where God is working. Forty years before, Joshua and Caleb had assured the nation, ‘Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome.’ That’s faith! But the people said, ‘We are not able!’ That’s unbelief, and it cost the nation forty years in the wilderness.”   –WARREN WIERSBE

 

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 The two spies had returned from Jericho, having followed Joshua’s orders to check out the land and the city. They had escaped discovery with Rahab’s help, and now they give their report to General Joshua. Their hearts were bursting with joy as they said the words of Joshua 2:24: “The LORD has handed over the entire land to us. Everyone who lives in the land is also panicking because of us.”

This was the news Joshua had been waiting for. Immediately he dispatched runners throughout the vast camp of Israel, announcing that first thing the next morning, they would break camp and pitch their tents on the banks of the Jordan River. They would finally come to the entry point of the Promised Land. Verse 1 of Chapter 3 records the event: Joshua started early the next morning and left Acacia Grove with all the Israelites. They went as far as the Jordan and stayed there before crossing.

The journey from Acacia Grove to the river’s edge is an easy one–just a few miles over smooth ground. So we can assume that the Israelites probably finished relocating before the sun had risen high in the sky. I’m sure the buzz throughout the tribes was the same: “This is the day! We will stand in the brink of a dream. We will come again to the place where our forefathers blew it; only this time, we will obey!”

But as they approached the famous river that formed a barrier between them and their longed-for real estate, what they saw by the light of day was both confusing and dreadful. The Jordan was defiantly uncrossable! There’s a simple sentence in v. 15 that gives us the picture: Now the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest season. The gentle Jordan was now a raging river, swelled to flood stage. Currents can reach up to 40-miles an hour when the Jordan floods. What is more, the plain that surrounds this river was packed with tangled brush and dense growth. Jeremiah the prophet mentions the thickets of Jordan (Jeremiah 12:5). One writer said, “it was not the river so much as the jungle that was difficult to cross.” [1]

So here’s the scene. The Jordan has swelled its banks, spreading about a mile across, ranging in depth from 3 feet to 12 feet, all covering thick undergrowth that could easily trip someone up and cast them into an overwhelming current. This was the sight that greeted the multiple hundreds of thousands that pitched their tents alongside the river.

The Bible tells us that they spent the next three days right there, the passing torrent eroding all confidence. The waiting pounded reality into every Israelite. You could hear the doubts over night fires: “Maybe the strong among us can brave this flood, but how can we cross with infants, with the sickly, with the aged, not to mention all our possessions strapped to wagons?” An insistent “no” began to form in their hearts as they listened to the roar of the water.

It’s easy for us to relate to the emotions and thoughts of Israel. So many of us face “personal Jordans” that feel so permanent and powerful that we don’t even try to make it across. Our lives feel stalled, stuck on the wrong side of God’s promises. We read about the abundant life, but can’t make it out of the wilderness. Churches can feel that way too, stalemated by the promise of something great with God, but blocked by all kinds of barriers.

But with God can turn a “no way” into a highway! The great question that loomed over the camp of Israel and over our lives today is, “Will we walk by sight or by faith? Do we really believe God can handle the impossible?”

Joshua 3 goes on to tell us something that is echoed throughout Scripture: What is impossible with men is possible with God. (Luke 18:27). God was about to reveal the steps that must be taken in every life and in every church if we are to move from grounded to grateful, from marooned in the past to marveling at God’s future! The experiences and decisions reported in this chapter were a major breakthrough for Israel. A whole new generation learned that victory depended totally upon Him!

As we stand on the brink of the God-sized future and consider the obstacles that hinder us, it can feel like we’re facing an impossible task between here and there. But these things are no match for the God of the Uncrossable! He knows how to get you from stuck to triumphant! Just look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. RELEASE the Past – GRACE of God

 

“Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan…”  JOSHUA 3:1

acacias, also called “Abel-shittim” (Num. 33:49), a plain or valley in the land of Moab where the Israelites were encamped after their two victories over Sihon and Og, at the close of their desert wanderings, and from which Joshua sent forth two spies (q.v.) “secretly” to “view” the land and Jericho (Josh. 2:1). Acacia, any of about 800 species of trees and shrubs comprising a genus (Acacia) in the pea family (Fabaceae) and native to tropical and subtropical regions of the world, particularly Australia (there called wattles) and Africa. Acacias’ distinctive leaves take the form of small, finely divided leaflets that give the leafstalk a feathery or fernlike (i.e., pinnate) appearance. In many Australian and Pacific species, the leaflets are suppressed or absent altogether, and the leafstalks (petioles) are flattened and perform the physiological functions of leaves. The leafstalks may be vertically arranged and bear thorns or sharp spines at their base. Acacias are also distinguished by their small, often fragrant flowers, which are arranged in compact globular or cylindrical clusters. The flowers are usually yellow but occasionally white and have many stamens apiece, giving each one a fuzzy appearance.

 

ILLUSTRATION – Circus Elephants and the Stake:

 

 

Nobody goes forward well clinging to their past. But sometimes people stop at grace like that’s all there is. And they get funky and stuck.

 

Why is that?

 

 

  1. REFRESH your Spirit – WORD of God

 

Excitement Builds:  Joshua said to the priests, ‘Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.’ So they took it up and went ahead of them.”  JOSHUA 3:6

 

Excitement Builds Further:  And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.”   JOSHUA 3:7

 

Beginning to Move:  “Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”  JOSHUA 3:8

 

“Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.”  JOSHUA 3:9

 

How do you do that? The WORD of God.

 

The grace of God will release you from the past.

The word of God will refresh your spirit and recharge your batteries.

 

 

Now this is actually kind of surprising. Check these verses out.

 

Joshua – the excitement builds.

 

Picture this.

Anybody here under 20?

Anybody here over 40? Right now add 40 years to your age. Some of you are now 120 – or you feel that way!

 

Picture this. The service went long and you’ve been here 40 years. You’re still here. We’ve been delivering pizza – or manna – and you’re still here.

 

And all of a sudden after 40 years Joshua goes,

God’s finally delivered us. Let’s GO.

 

And the whole nation of Israel, all 2 million of them line up.

Joshua goes “on your mark”     “get set”

 

Oh wait, hold up a minute.

 

What???

 

Go down to the last verse.

 

Joshua goes, on your mark, get set,

Come here for a second.

 

He says come here and do what? Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God.  Joshua 3:9

 

This is a very important step.

 

Why?

 

Write this down:

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Grace will free you and the truth will fuel you.

 

And you need both. Nothing goes forward if it’s not freed from the past. Nothing goes forward if it’s not fueled.

 

How many of you drove a car here today? How many have gas in that car?

 

If your car is empty it will not go forward.

 

Nothing. Goes. Forward. Without. Fuel. (louder/energy)

 

So Joshua says you are going to need fuel and here it is: The Word of God.

 

I heard this story the other day:

 

A university student shared a room with a Muslim roommate. As they became friends their conversation often turned to their faith and beliefs. The believer asked the Muslim if she had ever read the Bible. “No”. The Muslim asked the believer if she had ever read the Bible and she said, “no I haven’t but I bet it would be interesting. Why don’t we both, once a week, read both together, alternating parts?”

 

So they did.

 

And the second semester their friendship deepened and during that term the young Muslim became a follower of Jesus Christ.

 

One evening, late into the term, she burst into the room and shouted at the believer, “you deceived me”

 

She said, “what are you talking about?”

 

The new believer opened up her Bible and said, “I’ve been reading this thing through and I just read this verse:”

 

Here it is (SLIDE)

 

“For the Word of God is alive and active.” Hebrews 4:12

 

“I just read that verse and you never told me the Bible was living and alive.” She grinned, “you knew all along the Bible contains God’s presence and his power and the Koran is just a book.”

 

“I never had a chance.”

 

Isn’t that awesome?

 

So the believer says, “So are you mad at me?”

 

‘No. But you’ve got to admit it was an unfair contest.”

 

Isn’t that great?

 

The Bible is a very alive and life changing book. And when you get into it, it will fuel you for your future like nothing else. It’s why we teach it around here.

 

Matter of fact, we are launching a new message series next week on this book: Proverbs (SLIDE)

 

It’s an incredible book.

 

Why do we need a series on the book of Proverbs?

Because Recreate, we want to go somewhere we’ve never been before and we need to live like we’ve never lived before!

 

Proverbs is about one thing: Upgrading your life (SLIDE)

 

Isn’t that brilliant? It’s THE comprehensive book – everything you need to upgrade your life in any area.

 

Pick an area. Proverbs will teach you how to upgrade your life.

(read a few areas)

 

There’s a reason it’s the one book in the Bible Billy Graham has read every day of his life for the past 60 years. And you get to join him starting next week.

 

Why are we doing this?

 

Because Grace Frees; Truth Fuels

 

Now here’s the deal:

Once you’re freed, and you’re fueled, that doesn’t da any good unless you take

 

 

  1. RELY on God – AUTHENTIC FAITH

THREE MARKS OF

FUTURE-CHANGING FAITH

 

Rely on God and take a step of faith.

In other words, it’s time I go forward. It’s time we go forward Recreate.

 

Let’s go back for a minute to the beginning of the message. I want to look at a great verse we moved over quickly.  It’s a great verse and it’s going to be the hinge for this morning.

 

Joshua 3, verse 5

 

Joshua is getting ready to go to a brand new place for people:

 

SLIDE  Joshua told the people, consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”

 

He basically says, you want God’s best? Step one is to consecrate yourselves.

 

Here’s what that means>

 

Consecrate yourselves means you take yourself and you put yourself in the hands of God.

 

Now some of you are going, whoa! Hold on here. If I really give my whole life to God. If I put him in charge, if I say God I will do whatever you want me to do, I’m going to turn into some religious nut case. Will I turn into one of those weirdo’s?

 

No.

 

When a human being puts themselves into the hands of God what happens? EMPHASIS

 

Fast forward to the New Testament.

Jesus one day has got 5000 people around him and they’re all hungry. What do they do? They take a couple loaves of bread and some fish they put it into the hands of Jesus.

 

What does Jesus do with that? He multiplies it and does amazing things with it!

 

When you put yourself into the hands of Jesus he will multiply your life and do amazing things with your future.

 

Consecrate yourselves. Put yourselves in God’s hands for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.

 

 

 

  • LEADS YOU TO DO THINGS NEVER DONE BEFORE

 

“Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.”  JOSHUA 3:4A

 

 

 

 

  • TRUSTS GOD ENOUGH TO DO WHAT HE SAYS

 

“Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’ JOSHUA 3:8

 

 

 

  • BELIEVES GOD HAS AMAZING PLANS FOR TOMORROW

 

“Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.'”  JOSHUA 3:5

REMEMBERING GOD’S FAITHFULNESS

 

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ejh_hb15Fc

 

JOSHUA 4:1-2, 7

1When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2“Choose twelve men from among the people…

 

3and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan…and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”

 

6…In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’

 

7tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

 

 

EPHESIANS 3:20-21

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

 

About PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”
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